Our high school selected Les Miserable for their musical this year and if you know anything about this musical, it is a major undertaking! The director is the high school choir teacher and she spent months auditioning students, preparing, organizing, rehearsing, arranging the stage, props, etc. There were seven performances over two weekends, complete with an revolving stage! The amount of time, energy, and dedication that goes into such a production is unbelievable and I am still in awe thinking of all the hands on deck for this performance. I was fortunate to spend time with these high school students during this producation, and a handful of elementary and middle school students too.
Some things this musical reminded me of as I watched the students filter in and out of practices, dress rehearsal, and the performances:
It takes a village – we needed to borrow props, the revolving stage, and other items from local schools and organizations. Parents were involved in organizing snacks for students and many transported other students for parents that could not provide transportation. Parents and grandparents assisted with the organization of costumes, hung posters to advertise, ushered and sold tickets. Students helped each other with hair and make up, and there were many students that volunteered to be the crew. Parents and students helped build the set and take it down after the show.
The arts are so very important – the kids in the musical are a team and they put together a fantastic show. It was seriously amazing, many people came back to see it numerous times. Schools need to have a variety of offerings for students, we all have different interests and need offerings to nourish our talents and promote growth.
Kids support kids – I was thrilled to see students come to the musical to support their friends in the musical. These kids that came to watch the show have their own interests such as; sports, robotics, band, orchestra, etc. and they came to watch this almost three hour show to support one of their friends in the show. This was so incredible, it brings pure joy to my heart.
People have bad days, be kind, they will bounce back – I ended up with influenza and pneumonia during the second weekend of the show. I took my medication and helped sell tickets or anything else I could do, but I will admit, I felt like I was in a fog. One of the cast members came down with something as well and he could not perform the last three shows, which broke my heart for him. We both ended up with nasty bugs, and will bounce back, but it reminded me that people are going through harder times that are far worse. During these times, be patience and supportive. It is difficult to focus on the task at hand when you are not one hundred percent, so practice kindness.
Celebrate – teachers care about kids! The director of the musical arranged for a celebration at a local movie theater after the show. The cast and crew were invited to watch their musical on the big screen! How awesome! This was a fantastic idea and a fabulous way to celebrate. Kudos Mrs. Andre!
Be the one for kids – many of these students were my elementary students and they are now young men and women. I walked out of a scene during dress rehearsal and one of the young men said to me, “This is my favorite scene, you won’t want to miss it”. I was looking at a young man with facial hair, but I was seeing my little elementary student saying…why aren’t you watching us Mrs. VanderJagt? Be present. Be kind. Be supportive.
People are good – there is more good in the world. People came from all over Michigan to support these students, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to support others.
Many students are talented – this production was full of so much talent. This is exactly what you want, a lot of students with talent, it makes for a stronger production. The leads in the production were amazing, but so were the other soloist and the ensemble. Surround yourself with others that support you and push you to growth, it makes everyone better!
Parents are proud – parents should be proud of their children. The biggest joy in life is raising happy caring children. It is okay to be proud of your child and the other children in the performance, they work really hard!
Teachers and administration show interest in students – I watched numerous teachers, a substitute teacher, bus drivers, school staff, principals, assistant principals, the high school principal, board members, and the superintendent attend this musical. Their presence is supporting the arts, but also building a stronger relationship with these students, I watched the interactions with the school staff and it was fun and playful, the students were glad all the different groups were there to support them.
I am truly blessed to be involved with a district with such a strong fine arts program. I am thrilled for the students involved and for the community that is able to enjoy the talent. I love kids, all ages, even the ones that are taller and stronger than me! I found out how strong these young people were when we had to take down the set and carry it to a truck (and when one of my former elementary students picked me up, yes he plays football too). I also realized that sometimes you have to unplug and shut down (or your body will shut down for you), and when this happens I would rather it be my choice to unplug and attend such a powerful show like Les Mis. I was lost in the story for numerous evenings and enjoyed every minute of it, and of course that song, “Bring Him Home” gets me every time! Remember as you are enjoying your spring break what is truly important in life.